Recently the American Historical Association published Where Historians Work: An Interactive Database of History PhD Career Outcomes, “the only interactive, discipline-specific, and cross-institutional database of career outcomes for PhDs.” Using data collected from AHA directories and on the web, “Where Historians Work” presents a robust statistical overview of the varied employment sought by History PhDs from more than 30 degree-granting intuitions. For those historians who have long held positions outside of the academy, the database, part of the AHA’s broader Career Diversity for Historians initiative, is a welcome acknowledgement of what many have known anecdotally for years: History PhDs can—and do!—work in an array of fields.
As a historian who has had one foot inside and outside of the academy throughout her time in graduate school, I couldn’t help but wonder: “Where do my fellow Early Americanists fit into this equation?” So I turn to you, dear readers.
Let’s start a conversation here at The Junto. It is my hope that this post will be the first in a series featuring Early Americanists who have chosen careers outside the professoriate.
Do you hold a PhD in Early American history/literature/architectural history/art history/etc. and are you employed outside the professoriate? Would you be interested in being featured as part of a series of posts about “Career Diversity: The View from Early America”?
Leave your stories in the comments below. Or, if you would prefer a less public forum, you may email The Junto (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject line “Career Diversity.” Please post comments or email by Friday, February 17.
Some questions you might consider in your post:
- Where do you work and what is your title?
- What has the journey after graduate school been like for you?
- Was the decision to pursue a career outside the academy a conscious, empowered one?
- Was it a choice you made after attempting the traditional academic route first?
- What steps (if any) did you take while in graduate school to pursue career opportunities outside of the professoriate?
- Tell us about your work. How does it relate (or not relate) to the research you undertook for your doctoral studies?
- What skills have you brought to your workplace that stemmed for your training as a historian?
Looking forward to the conversation!
 Full disclosure: I have been an active participant in Columbia’s History in Action initiative, which is sponsored in part by the American Historical Association and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Any opinions expressed within this post are mine alone.
 The debate concerning the state of the academic job market and the plight of job placements for recent PhDs is an important one, and I do not intend to dismiss those concerns. However, I hope this conversation provides an opportunity for graduate students and others wrestling with the question, “What can I do with this degree?” to connect with those in our field who have sought opportunities beyond the professoriate.
 I can’t promise that we’ll be able to feature all responses in a longer series of posts, but we will do our best to present an array of experiences.